The secret to sustainability? Focusing on your impact

How do you ensure sustainability at scale? Franklin Scholars faced this challenge when they joined Scale Accelerator in 2019. The team has since been on a fascinating journey, and their learnings bring valuable insights for other organisations looking to scale and sustain impact.

How do you ensure sustainability as you scale? This is a challenge we find many organisations wrestling with as they embark on Scale Accelerator.

Franklin Scholars had real potential to scale and change more young people’s lives when it joined Scale Accelerator in 2019. With a mission to help young people going through the difficult transition from primary to secondary school, its Beacon programme helped Year 7s build their resilience and confidence through strong peer support relationships with older students. Students from Year 10 upwards were trained to become Franklin Scholars and offer the younger students mentoring and tutoring.

But the organisation kept coming up against the same barrier. With a presence in 25 schools, they were struggling to expand into more. Schools couldn’t afford the programme and Franklin Scholars couldn’t afford to reduce the cost.

Franklin Scholars has been on a fascinating journey during its time on Scale Accelerator. The learnings it has identified brings valuable insight for other organisations looking to scale and sustain impact.

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

1. Start by focusing on the impact, not the programme

For Franklin Scholars, focusing on the impact made it realise the distinction between what it wants to achieve and how it currently achieves it.

The team concluded it could still work towards its mission, even if it wasn’t always directly delivering the programme in schools. Enabling others to deliver the programme would be more cost-effective, cutting the costs to schools and providing scope to expand.

Spring Impact helped us realise we needed to focus on the impact we wanted, not the programme itself. It took a lot of soul searching for us to realise that we would need to give up some control and be open to others delivering the programme.

— Georgia Brown, Manager, Programme Development and Outreach

2. Agree where there is room for flexibility

Franklin Scholars focused on the social impact it wanted to see at a local level, to decide how flexibly the programme could be delivered.

The team agreed their priority was the pupils’ social and emotional development, even though Beacon had shown evidence of academic benefit. Georgia explains:

“It is really important to us that we retain the need for pupils to apply to be Franklin Scholars and go through a competitive selection process. To make it meaningful, pupils need to know that not everyone is accepted. However, when it comes to how Franklin Scholars use their time with the younger students, we are happy to be flexible. Peer sessions need to be dictated by individual students’ needs.”

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

3. Identify the right partners

After identifying that they would be open to working with partners, the team wanted to make sure that whoever was delivering the programme locally had the right skills, expertise and, most importantly, would be emotionally invested in the success of the pupils.

With these factors in mind, the team identified that schools would be best placed to deliver the programme.

What’s next?

Following the completion of the Scale Accelerator, Franklin Scholars will be piloting Beacon Box, a social license model with schools in 2020. The Franklin Scholars team will give schools the training and materials they need to set up and deliver Beacon Box. In return, the schools will pay a small fee to cover Franklin Scholars’ costs.

Once Franklin Scholars has embedded the programme in a school, its ongoing relationship will be lighter touch. This will give it the time to focus on setting up the programme in new schools and further innovation.

As Franklin Scholars pilots this approach they will be learning from the schools and iterating and improving on its License model.

Hannah Barker, Senior Consultant at Spring Impact supported Franklin Scholars through the Scale Accelerator and feels its journey has several key elements that others can learn from:

“A lot of organisations can take inspiration from the approach Franklin Scholars has taken. They were ambitious about the impact their programme could have at scale and were really open to changing the way they work to reach more young people. They were also proactive behind the scenes, discussing the ideas with schools as they emerged and setting the wheels in motion for piloting the replication model. We are excited to see how it develops!”

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

Photo credit: Franklin Scholars

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